Aug 042010
 

Hamsters like variety in their diet. It keeps them both healthy and happy. Feeding your hamster the range of food it needs means providing dry food, fruits and vegetables, the occasional treat, and, of course, water.

Dry Food

Dry food is where your hammy will get most of its nutrition. Here’s what should be in the dry food:

Proteins: Helps normal growth and maintenance of muscle and tissue. Should be 15 to 20% of diet. Very important for hamsters that are pregnant or nursing.
Fats and Carbohydrates: Provides energy; helps vitamin absorption; prevents skin problems. Should only be about 5% of diet.
Minerals: Maintenance of bones and teeth.
Vitamins: Enable chemical reactions within body cells. Helps cell growth; maintenance of general health.

Although some people make their own dry hamster food, the easiest way to get it is to buy it in your pet store. Typical hamster food bags have a mix of seeds, grains, beans, and nuts. Some bags may also have alfalfa pellets and dried fruits and vegetables. Avoid bags of food that are mainly sunflower seeds and/or dried corn.

These bags are usually a loose mix. Your hamster will probably pick out the items that it likes the most, rather than the nutritional mix it needs. That’s why you might also want to buy block-type food. In this type pet food, all the seeds and grains stick together so your hamster has to eat a little of everything.

Look on the side of the food bag to check what’s in the mix and the nutritional information such as what percentage of protein is available in the food.

Fruits and vegetables

A few pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables each day will round out your hamster’s diet and make him or her quite happy. Be sure you wash and dry the fruit and vegetables and cut them into small pieces suitable for the size of your hamster. For fruits, remove stems, seeds, and large pits.

Typical safe fruits include:

  • Peach
  • Tomato
  • Apple
  • Plum
  • Pear
  • Melon
  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • Pineapple

Typical safe vegetables include:

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Green beans

Avoid iceberg lettuce as its water content is high. This can cause problems for your hamster’s digestive tract.

Hamsters are hoarders. So if you have a typical hamster, it will take more fruits and veggies than it needs and stockpile the extra in its bedding or inside a toy. You’re going to have to check these places in the hamster cage every day for rotting food so your hamster will not eat it.

Treats

What pet doesn’t like an occasional treat? Just remember that it’s a treat, not a meal. Only give it once in a while and only give a small portion.

Some typical treats include:

  • A small piece of fully cooked meat (Good for protein)
  • Live mealworms or crickets (Good for protein. You can get them at pet stores.)
  • A small piece of scrambled egg
  • A small piece of cheese
  • A teaspoon of plain yogurt
  • A few unsalted nuts
  • A teaspoon of sugar fee dry cereal

Pet stores also sell bags of treats such as yogurt or cheese drops. One a day is plenty!

Water

It goes without saying, that an important part of your hamster’s diet is water. Your hamster needs clean, fresh water every day to prevent dehydration.

You can use a water bottle or a ceramic bowl for the water.

Foods to Avoid

Certain foods should never be fed to a hamster because they can make him or her ill.

Snacks that humans eat fall into this category. Do not feed your hamster:

  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Chocolate
  • Potato chips
  • Any other type of snack food you might eat.

Anything sticky can get stuck in your hamster’s cheek pouches and cause a lot of problems.

Other foods hamsters should not eat include:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Raw potatoes
  • Canned vegetables
  • Fried foods
  • Pickles
  • Peanut butter

Finally

You should feed your hamster once every day, usually around the same time. Make sure food is available all the time by leaving some dry food in a food bowl. If you feed your hamster the right mix of nutritious food, you’ll have a contented and healthy hamster.

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